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Kuwaiti lawyer seeks ban on expat drivers

Shemmari withdraws case for revoked citizenship

KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti lawyer yesterday filed a lawsuit at Administrative Court demanding an “urgent suspension” of all driving licenses for expatriates and halting the issuance of new licenses for them to make it easier for citizens to drive on roads. Lawyer Mohammad Al-Ansari said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Kuwaitis citizens after the traffic problems have deteriorated reaching an “unbearable phase”.

The lawyer said that because the ministries of interior and public works have failed to resolve the traffic problem in the country resulting to congestion which negatively impacted Kuwaiti citizens. He demanded that the court should “temporary suspend the validity of all driver licenses held by expatriates and halt the issuance of new ones until the Interior Ministry issues new decisions to regulate the traffic matters in Kuwait”.

The lawyer said that the traffic problems in the country have reached a dangerous level especially when citizens and expatriates go to their jobs and come back home. This has resulted in uncivilized behavior and practices and with the absence of any imminent solution from the government, it is time that the judiciary ordered urgently the suspension of driving licenses held by expatriates with the exception of certain professions.

The court has not yet set a date for considering the case which is the first of its kind in the country but comes at a time when millions of expatriates have become an easy target and have been blamed for most of the country’s problems and shortcomings. There are about 3.1 million foreigners living and working in Kuwait against just under 1.4 million Kuwaiti citizens.

For the past 10 years, the Interior Ministry had imposed highly strict rules for expatriates to be able to apply for driving licenses. A majority of expatriates are required to hold a university degree, earn a monthly salary of KD 600 and have lived in the country legally for at least two years to be able to apply for a driver’s license. The court is extremely unlikely to issue the suspension because it clearly contradicts several provisions in the Kuwaiti constitution which envisages equality among all regardless of nationality or gender.

In another case, Ahmad Jabr Al-Shemmari yesterday withdrew a lawsuit he had submitted to challenge the government decision to revoke his citizenship. Shemmari, the owner of the pro-opposition Alyoum television and Alam Al-Youm newspaper, had won rulings in his favor from the lower and appeals court and the government challenged the last ruling at the Court of Cassation, the country’s Supreme Court. But before the Cassation Court could give its decisive ruling on the issue, MPs said they had obtained a promise from the Amir that the government will re-instate the citizenship to all those who got their nationality revoked in mid-2014.

By A staff reporter

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